January 12th, 2015

I support the French values of equality, fraternity and liberty, but I also believe that divisions and fear in society should not win from freedom of expression and tolerance, because this is what some seek to accomplish.

As to the satirist magazine Charlie Hebdo, personally I respect them and they have the right to offend, question and challenge everything, including religion, including Islam within our legal framework. This is what free speech and what our free and civilized society stands for.

Having said that!

Personally I am not a great admirer of the offensive and uncivil genre of Charlie Hebdo, so I am not really Charlie. Humour, especial civilized humour usually brings people together, but when humour is meant to humiliate, insult and embarrass it tears a society apart and I question its wisdom. It also has the tendency to discriminate minorities.

Despite the terrible occurrences of the last days in Paris I hold the opinion that the premises must be that from the 60 million Muslims living in Europe, of which most are born in Europe and are national citizen, 99,9999 percent is non-violent.

This is a religion which might need a phase of enlightenment, a secularization leading to a separation of mosque from state. Today Islam is being hijacked by people who use Islam for their own purposes; basically it’s a battle of ideas.

I also hold the opinion that a multi-cultural society and the diversity which this brings to our society is a great common good, despite its defects and the lack of inclusion by some in society. However, we should not overreact, the recent victims deserve better.

This is of course contrary to what the well-known Islamophobic Mr. Geert Wilders and other far right politicians like Marie Le Pen wish their mostly un-educated followers to believe.

Is it not amazing that Mr. Wilders now all of a sudden has become this gallant defender of free speech, but in reality he reminds me the darkest chapter of our European history, a time when the brown shirts marched the streets and ruled us. Now they see their opportunity again to capitalize on anger and fear?

The same Mr. Wilders who wishes to ban the Quran because it incites violence; wishes to close mosque’s; wishes to de-Islamise our society and tells us we are at war with Islam. Ludicrous, but these are the words of an un-educated demagogue. A demagogue, who would not be troubled by another Kristallnacht.

However Mr. Wilders and his loudmouth racist supporters have the problem that most constitution’s guarantee freedom of speech and freedom of religion, just like has been laid down in the European Human Rights Act of 1998.

WJJH

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